11/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What Buddha Might Say To John McCain

We are not presuming to know what the Buddha might say to John McCain, any more than what he might say to any of us. But the Buddha did teach very clearly about the dangers of greed, hatred and ignorance, what he called the three poisons, that John McCain seems to display quite frequently.

Together, these three are like thieves in the night who rob us of our happiness. Where greed grabs our desires, hatred takes our fear and insecurity and blames everyone else, while ignorance clouds our vision.

Greed has many relatives, such as jealousy, addiction, ambition, self-centeredness, pride, grasping and clinging, giving rise to dissatisfaction, irritation, frustration, annoyance, even depression. Greed slips into our mind, unnoticed, unasked for. Desire makes us manipulate conversations. The craving to have and possess stops us from giving, it limits our generosity, it generates a fear of not having. McCain personifies greed, not only in his many houses and cars, but in his desperate desire to win, no matter how.

Hate is destructive, indiscriminate, like a snake it can rise up out of nowhere and attack. It is found in prejudice, whether against different races, political beliefs, or sexual preferences. When we are fixed in the belief that we are right then anything that questions or threatens that belief becomes the enemy and should, therefore, be done away with. We see this in McCain's hawkish mentality to war and his attacking personality.

Such hatred becomes our own worst enemy, for no matter how much we try to annihilate the hated one, the hate remains inside us, slowly destroying and eating away at our own happiness and causing ill health.

Hatred towards others is based on the belief that we are all separate from each other, that we can hurt another without hurting ourselves, that I am more important than you. It breaks friendships and families, creates self-righteousness and arrogance. Prejudice makes us quick to judge or find fault, it closes our heart and shuts down our sensitivity.

Hatred and its many bedfellows are deeply destructive states but they are not permanent or fixed. We attended the memorial for a dear friend, held in the St John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. His son spoke of how he and his siblings had grown up with just one main rule in the house: they were not allowed to use the word hate. If you try this yourself you will see what a huge difference it makes to just eliminate that one word.

Where hatred closes our heart, delusion makes us believe there is a permanent, separate and fixed 'me' so that we take ourselves very seriously; it is the ignorance of our essential connectedness with all others. Where Obama says, "I'm not in this for me, I'm in it for you," McCain is obsessed with his accomplishments and seeing himself as the one who has it all together.

So John McCain, watch what you say and do. Anger is like a match that can burn down a forest. Outright lies cause untold suffering. But remember, when you point a finger at another there are four fingers pointing back to you, so you are the one who will have to reconcile with yourself. Please act wisely!


Ed and Deb are respected authors and meditation teachers.
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